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Pycnogenol: benefits and uses

Karen Evennett
Article written by Karen Evennett

Date published 11 October 2023

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What is pycnogenol?

An extract of French maritime pine bark, pycnogenol comprises a blend of active bioflavonoids that are also found in fresh fruits and vegetables.

The bark used for pycnogenol is taken from trees that are pesticide and herbicide free and grown in the dedicated Landes de Gascogne forest.

How does pycnogenol work?

Packed with antioxidants, pycnogenol has four basic properties:

  • Fights inflammation in the body
  • Helps control oxidative stress
  • Protects blood vessels
  • Supports a healthy immune system

As such, it is an ideal anti-ageing supplement.

What can pycnogenol help?

Pycnogenol is one of the most well-researched health solutions, and the subject of 160 scientific studies.

By supporting the body's production of nitric oxide, pycnogenol helps to relax blood vessels and maintain healthy circulation and blood pressure, in turn helping to support cardiovascular health.

Its high antioxidant content protects skin from the free radical damage caused by UV rays, stress, and pollution, while also nourishing the skin from the inside out.

Anti-inflammatory action helps relieve aches and pains, and maintain healthy mobile joints.

Eyesight is also protected as a result of Pycnogenol's ability to strengthen retinal capillaries.

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What do the studies show?

Its multiple benefits for inflammation and circulation mean that pycnogenol can help with numerous different health issues, including:


The anti-inflammatory action of pycnogenol has been found to help control symptoms of allergic asthma and reduce the need for medication.

Eye health

Pycnogenol is proven to strengthen retinal capillaries and help control leakage of fluids and blood into the retina. Five clinical studies with more than 1,200 participants have demonstrated that it improves the vascular system of the eyes to preserve healthy eyesight.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)

CVI is the cause of varicose veins. Due to its benefits for circulation, pycnogenol can also be more effective than standard medication for reducing puffy legs (oedema).

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Supplementing with pycnogenol may help you reduce your dosage of calcium channel blockers, according to a small study of 58 patients who were taking the drug nifedipine.

Type 2 diabetes

In this study, pycnogenol significantly lowered blood sugar levels compared to a placebo.

Cognitive function

A healthy brain requires good circulation. This study linked pycnogenol with improved cognition and mood over eight weeks, in otherwise healthy students given a battery of tests.

Erectile dysfunction

In a study, supplements of pycnogenol were able to significantly improve the ability of men with erectile dysfunction to achieve and maintain an erection.

Menopausal symptoms

Research involving 38 menopausal women found that pycnogenol reduced typical symptoms, including hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, irregular periods, loss of libido and vaginal dryness.


Taking pycnogenol for three months could relieve knee pain and stiffness, one study found.

Skin health

Pycnogenol's impact on collagen production means it can improve skin elasticity and hydration, according to a study on menopausal women.


Research has shown a reduction in abdominal pain due to endometriosis, with studies also showing a clear improvement in menstrual cramps and pain in 73 per cent of women who took 30mg pycnogenol daily for one month.

In those with endometriosis, abdominal pain was reduced by 80 per cent and cramps disappeared in 77 per cent.


By boosting cochlear blood flow, pycnogenol has also been found to relieve tinnitus symptoms.

How safe is pycnogneol?

With 40 years of research dedicated to its safety, pycnogenol is one of the most researched food supplements and has passed extensive safety tests.

Toxicity test results demonstrate that it is safe, even at high doses for long periods of time, and its purity and potency are constantly monitored.

The facts


Research has focused on dosage varying from 1mg to 200mg daily according to the conditions being investigated.

As a daily supplement, we recommend taking two 30mg tablets daily with water and not exceeding this dose.

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To date, no serious adverse side effects have been observed or reported in clinical trials. Mild side effects as gastro-intestinal discomfort, headache, nausea and dizziness were seldom reported.

Because of its astringent taste, which occasionally causes minor stomach discomfort, you may prefer to take pycnogenol with or after meals.

Don't take pycnogenol without first discussing it with your GP if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, are regularly taking other medications, or have a bleeding disorder or an immune disorder, such as lupus, MS, or rheumatoid arthritis.

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Karen Evennett

About Karen Evennett

Karen is a freelance health journalist and author/editor of 14 health books. She is a member of the Medical Journalists' Association and her features have appeared in various publications including Woman's Own and the Guardian.